Picture Perfect 22

The camera started. It had been years since Dan had done this sort of flash reading of a picture. The first one was of a child in a rain coat stooping over a plastic wading pool.

“This top one is commercial. Lighting is controlled. Colors too perfect. It was taken with a Hasselblad, using 1/100 settings, color was tweaked.”

“You can tell tech stuff from looking at a picture.”

“Modern stuff is easier in someway. This was actually shot on film stock as well, not digital.”

The next was Stephanie shaking hands with Brad Pitt at a film opening.

“This is a composite. You were shopped into this picture.”

“What!” Mike glanced at Stephanie. “You told us …”

“How can you tell that?” she asked.

“All in the lighting. Shadows on your face are totally wrong for the shadows on his face. Same with shadows on your clothing.”

“That’s amazing.” she said.

“Basic training.” Dan explained. “Look to the light first. But good job all the same. Nearly seamless. Jack do this?”

“Yes. Are you psychic. Wait! You saw this picture before didn’t you?”

“Never. But I know he specializes is celeb match ups like this.”

“That alone is worth two-fifty an hour.” Mike laughed. 

“Okay. Okay.” Stephanie said. “We’re getting way off track here. Take a look at this last one.”

It was of a young girl in a pretty white dress, veil, hair done up in curls, holding a book in one hand. The face was familiar to Dan. He studied it a few minutes.

“This is one of the children. Paula Morrison. The book is the Catholic missal. Her first Communion? I’m not sure how old you have to be for that. Or is Confirmation? Small cross on a chain around he neck. Her parents were probably quite attached to their parish church.

“Behind her is dark wood panelling. Maybe this was taken in the church itself. Her look is of someone being told to stand still.”

“Spot on.” Stephanie said. “Cyrtys was right about you. You are the real deal. Don’t worry about all this side talk we’ll edit it out.”

“Look I thought you were here to ask about this case not how well I do my work.” Dan got up from the desk. The camera followed him. “It’s not that I mind talking about it but what are you after?”

“Sorry, I guess we got side tracked”  Stephanie shrugged. “You never know when some lead will turn up.”

“Then let’s get this back on course. You know Timmy Dunlop?” John asked.

“We were friends. We met one summer when my Dad stayed in Stellerton for work. We’d see each a few times years. A few times he came to say with us in New Waterford.”

“Do remember when this picture was taken? Take us to that day.”

“We’d been therein Stellerton, since the previous Monday. This was a Monday. We’d been playing cowboys and Indians and robbers. That’s why I had on my cowboy outfit. It was Timmy’s turn to be the sheriff, that’s why he was wearing my badge.”

“What time was this? Was it the last time you saw him?”

“I guess just before supper that day. He went home and we were going to meet the next day to go to the Happy Hippo again.”

“Happy Hippo?” John asked.

“One of those travelling circuses. Small potatoes really. Rides, shooting games, some side shows. Snakes, monkeys.”

“So you went to the circus the next day?”
“No. I didn’t see him. He never called for me like he promised. I was mad and figured he’d gone on his own without me. We left for New Waterford Wednesday. In a bit of a rush.”

“Oh? Why?”

“I never understood. My Dad really didn’t explain much.”

“Was that when you heard about Timmy going missing?”
“I never heard about that till I saw it on your show. I spoke to my mother this week and she says that was part of the reason. All those other children and this being someone so close to home. To be honest I didn’t even know about the other children. We didn’t have amber alerts in those days.”

“So the police never spoke to you about it then?”

“No. Would they have? Maybe they talked to my Dad?” More questions about their move to Toronto came to Dan as they spoke. 

“Your Dad took this picture?”

“Yes. He was always taking pictures of me and my sister. I even found a home movie with Timmy in it and …” He’d become completely unaware of the camera on him and was almost going to mention the saucy pictures.

“And what?” John asked.

“I never got my sheriff’s badge back.”

“Good.” Stephanie said. “I think we got enough. Even though you were a bit difficult downstairs before, you were  really warm on camera.”

“Difficult?” Dan asked.

“That release bullshit.”

“Business is business.” Dan said. He glanced at his cell phone. “That was three hours ten minutes and counting. I’ll invoice you before you leave.”

“You weren’t serious were you?” Stephanie said.

“Will that be cash or credit card.”

“Neither. I can’t expense this like a lunch. About that home movie footage. Of you and Timmy.”

Dan printed out an invoice for her. “When this gets paid we’ll talk.”

She took the invoice, nodded to the crew and they left.

“Think they’ll pay?” Sandy asked.

“Your guess is as good as mine.” He took out his cell to check the time. “Anyone for a coffee?”

“I’m fine.” Ushio said.

“I’ll be at the Carafe if you need me.” Dan needed to get outside to clear his head a little. He hadn’t eaten since his bagel in the morning. 

“Jill around?” He asked Peter as he sat at one of the window tables.

“Nope.” Peter put a coffee in front of him. “She took off early today. I sometimes let her have a little time off.”

“Decent of you.”

“Muffin? Bagel?”

“I … you know I want something but I don’t what it is?”

“The human condition.” Peter laughed. “Let me surprise you.”

“I’ve had my share of surprises for one day.”

“Try this anyway.” He put a plate with an oat-crumbled topped square on it. “Strawberries, dates and pecans. Enjoy. I’m on clean up duty so call out if you need anything.”

Dan had finished half the square when he heard the cafe door ding open. He looked up and it was Robert Warszawa.

“Ushio said I might find you here.”

“Some people hang out in cheap bars after work I hang out in designer coffee shops.”

“There’s been some talk about you and that TV show.” Warszawa sat. “It might not be a good idea for you to get too involved in it.”

“It’s not as if I asked them to air that photo of me and Timmy. I didn’t even know about that till I saw it. That’s pretty much the extend of my involvement.”

“Their researcher has been asking around.”

“Stephanie Carter?”

“Yes. She mentioned that you suggested she might find out more from our files.”

“I did not suggest anything like that to her. She interviewed me this afternoon, as a follow up to my call to them. My Dad did take that photo you know. Not that I knew much then about what was happening around me..”

“I’m sure you didn’t but there’s those who wonder what’s going on.”

“Are they afraid Unsolved will find out something they missed and make the Force look bad?”

“Don’t get pissed at me Dan I was just letting you know, that’s all.” 

“Thanks for the heads up. Then I’ll be on my way.” He went to the door. 

Warszawa followed him. “Can I offer you a lift home?”

“Nah. I got my bike here. I’ll be careful. I won’t do anything to sully the good reputation of the RCMP.”

As he peddled home he wondered what the Division had to worry about. It was an old cold case. They usually welcomed fresh light to help get them solved. Unless there was some ‘discrepancy’ in the initial investigation that would throw a bad light on them. Perhaps force those old files to be reopened for public examination.

He’d have to speak with Cyrtys and Stephanie to find out what what actually going on. He certainly never suggested to Stephanie that she talk to the Force or that she use his name if she did. Considering his history there that wouldn’t have been helpful at all.

After his year at Quantico was hired by the RCMP. His photograph analysis abilities were quickly recognized and he was a rising star until a complaint of sexual harassment was lodged against him. To protect the complainant his identity was kept from Dan. But the fact that the complaint had been lodged was known by many. The investigation found that the complaint was groundless but by then the damage had been done, as far as Dan was concerned. He never found out who the complainant was.

He wasn’t willing to make sure there was always a third person in the room when he spoke with a colleague as was suggested to him to make such allegations never arose again. He opted to leave the service. Some felt he left because he was guilty and the accuser was silenced out of favouritism. A cloud of suspicion never disperses even when there was no grounds for it in the first place.

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.

paypal.me/TOpoet 

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